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Essential Oils Blog

Tag Archives: wellness

Carrier oils – The Other Part of the Equation

Carrier oils have become so exciting to me! I used to think of them as just oils used to dilute essential oils. But in reality, there is much more to them than that. Did you know that Argan Carrier Oil can help with scars and with the skin’s elasticity as well as to nourish the hair? Camellia Carrier Oil is great for mature skin, and to help when you’ve experienced sun damage…Rosehip Carrier Oil is rejuvenating to the skin, can be used on minor burns and wounds, and can be helpful for other skin issues. Some carrier oils like Jojoba (which is really a wax) and Meadowfoam can actually extend the shelf life of other carrier oils. Jojoba is also most like our natural sebum and is well received by our skin and rich in Vitamin E. Tamanu is one of the newest carrier oils that we have and one we are very excited about. This shimmery, thicker carrier oil  is amazing at helping with skin issues, irritations, and minor wounds.  It is best used in a blend because of it’s viscosity and strong scent.

We must remember that these carriers come from plants as well and have their own constituents. Although they are not concentrated like essential oils (which makes them very safe), they do have properties and characteristics of their own. They can determine how fast an essential oil will penetrate, depending on the viscosity of the carrier and how many Omega 9’s that they contain. Carrier oils can be blended as well, to create a synergy of their own and be helpful in adding to the benefits of an essential oil, when combined.

 

Correct storage is important with carrier oils because they are made up of fats, which can go rancid.  Most carrier oils, should be stored in the refrigerator.  The shelf life is much shorter than essential oils, so by all means use them up! Don’t save them for a special occasion or you’ll be missing out daily on the benefits of these great oils. If your oil is approaching a year in age, and you still have a full bottle then try using it as a cleanser or moisturizer. Then you can see which carrier oils agree with your skin type. Many have found the the Oil Cleanse Method to be beneficial for them.

It’s a personal decision whether to buy an expeller pressed, which is extracted by steam method, or a cold pressed carrier oil.  While cold pressed does retain more of the beneficial oils, there are benefits to steam distilling too. These beneficial properties can be acquired that didn’t exist without steam distillation, as in the case of fractionated coconut oil; fractionated coconut oil will gain more caprylic acid through steam distillation and in other carrier oils it will decrease the fatty acids.

We’ve created a chart that will be an easy reference for the single carrier oils that we currently carry.  It can help with the basic questions about carriers and will be helpful for a quick comparison regarding different common issues.

 

At Plant Therapy, we have an extensive, lovely selection of carrier oils.  Here is a list of the single carrier oils that we carry:

Amond Carrier Oil (Virgin, Sweet)

Apricot Kernel Oil

Argan Carrier Oil (Organic)

Avocado Carrier Oil

Camellia Seed Carrier Oil

Coconut (Fractionated) Carrier Oil

Evening Primrose Carrier Oil

Grapeseend carrier Oil

 Hazelnut Carrier Oil 

Hemp Seed Carrier Oil

Hemp Seed Carrier Oil  (Organic)

Jojoba (Golden) Carrier Oil

Meadowfoam Carrier Oil

Sunflower Carrier Oil (organic)

Tamanu Carrier Oil

 

Download Carrier Oil Chart HERE:

Carrier oil preferences are an individual choice and everyone has different skin types. We hope that you will explore carrier oils and their benefits.

 

Which carrier oil is your favorite?

 

References:

Price, Len and Shirley.  Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage. 

Worword, Valerie Ann.   The Complete Book of Essential oils and Aromatherapy.

When All is Said and Done, It’s Really an Individual Journey

 

Many people ask, “What is an essential oil that will be a foolproof treatment for….” Well, the truth is while there are generalizations, there are exceptions and what might work for one, might not work for another. That is to say, although some specific essential or blends have been successful in helping many, it’s not a guarantee that it will work for all. There’s more of a guarantee that there will be a few that it won’t work for.

When I discovered essential oils, years ago, I used them ignorantly and luckily didn’t become sensitized to essential oils or harm myself using them. Most of the time, they just sat on the shelf, because I didn’t know exactly what to do with them! Gradually, I began reading and researching and when I began working for Plant Therapy, a whole new world opened up for me. It was an aha moment as I became educated on safe methods and I learned just how effective and powerful that essential oils can be. I also learned more about the many constituents (the natural chemical compounds in oils) that essential oils contain. Not all of these chemicals or combinations are right for everyone. For instance, for children, there are safer, gentle oils that Plant Therapy recommends and we label them KidSafe® . For the elderly, Wintergreen or Cinnamon Leaf would not be my first choice, as they are strong oils with cautions. For some on medications, I might choose another oil than Chamomile German, which can have interactions with some medications.

Concerning myself, I have realized that I have a sensitive system, and some essential oil are better choices than others. So, while one oil, may be calming for someone, it may not be for me.  For many, Lavender is the definite choice when it comes to a calming oil. Although I love it and find it useful for many purposes, I don’t find it calming for my individual makeup. When the topic of scent comes up, we all have our druthers on which essential oils smell the best. Or I may have different preferences for blends addressing discomfort or skin issues than another. I absolutely love Vetiver, while others might find it unappealing. Others love the florals, and for me they are overpowering. I also love Chamomile Roman to calm and balance one’s system, and to help with swelling. Others, sadly, may not give it a chance because they don’t love the scent. The wonderful thing about essential oils though, is that they are multi-taskers and many address similar issues. So if you are wanting a calming essential oil, but aren’t crazy about the Chamomile Roman, don’t be discouraged. There are other options.  Some examples of other calming oils are; Bergamot, Orange Sweet, Cedarwood,  Patchouli, Vetiver and Melissa.

When someone says to me, “That essential oil doesn’t work.” I may smile just a bit, as I ponder that all of Plant Therapy’s essential oils are of the highest quality and have been tested several times to verify that. I like that a specific oil is not just tested once, and then those are the results that our customers will see forever, but every single batch of essential oils that comes into Plant Therapy is tested, so you know exactly what you are getting.  So, I know that although this person may not have found the perfect fit for them, it may be very effective for someone else’s body chemistry.  Also, it’s interesting that essential oils blended with other essential oils create a new synergy. It can be even more effective than if used alone. If someone doesn’t care for plain Lavender or Cedarwood Atlas, perhaps blending it with Orange Sweet or Bergamot, may make it your favorite oil blend ever.

Plant Therapy stands behind of it’s essential oils, and our customers can rest assured that if they are not 100% satisfied, they can receive a full refund, so there are no risks in purchasing an oil that you may not be sure that you will like. It certainly is a journey, and as we learn more and study each oil, and experiment a bit, we will find what works for us and how to use these precious substances to make our life better. Remember that like a lot of things, using essential oils is a journey, and oftentimes more enjoyable, when taking your time, learning along the way, and deciding what works best for your personal needs.

 

 

When Precious Oils Are Priceless

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


In recent blogs, I have shared a few inspiration lists of some of my favorite oils that suit specific approaches and needs.  In My Top Five Workhorse Oils, we discussed what I consider the powerhouses that pretty much cover the bases of the basics. These essential oils are well rounded, readily available, with very few safety concerns.

As part of the series on holistic aromatherapy, I shared My Top Three Oils for Whole Being Balance. These, too, pack a punch by providing support to encourage balance for all three levels of our being — mind, body and spirit. These, again, are generally accessible and provide a lot of bang for the buck.

So, when and why would we want to use the pricier oils?  Though they may have multiple therapeutic uses, some of the precious oils can be powerful in a more singular way.  When we need them for their high therapeutic value in these certain situations, and there is no real substitute, Precious Oils Are Priceless.

Let’s discuss three precious oils that can be powerfully priceless:  Melissa, Neroli, and Rose Otto

Each of these essential oils are often sought for significant support to soothe heightened mental and emotional distress.  While some of their actions overlap, each helps in a different way.  And, each can be priceless in episodes that impact our existence when our mind is fogged, our feelings are intense, our body is flooded with the fight or flight reaction, and our spirits feel frozen.

Please know that aromatherapy is never a replacement for care from your professional health provider.  Aromatherapy, however,  can provide powerful support as part of your overall plan of care. Every person has unique needs and responses to all approaches to care, including aromatherapy. If you are under the care of health provider, please advise them if you wish to include aromatherapy as part of your care plan.  If you experience significant distress,  and aromatherapy does not provide relief in your self-care routine, please be prepared to seek professional support. 

A few things to note:

  • When supporting mental or emotional distress, inhalation is the best approach. Direct inhalation, such as through a personal inhaler, provides fastest and most effective route for settling the nerves and soothing emotions.
  • It is best to create a synergy so the senses do not associate a single scent with distress as a negative event or feeling. You can start with a mini-master blend as indicated in the sample synergies below.
  •  I find it is best to first test with a drop or two on a tissue to see how the synergy makes you feel.  If you feel a negative reaction, the tissue can easily and quickly be removed.
  • If the synergy creates a positive feeling, you can, then, create a personal inhaler for follow up use when needed wherever you are. Simply increase the synergies below to 15 drops.
  •  Each of the essential oils below have assertive scents. You won’t need much to mix into your synergy.
  • Plant Therapy offers each of these precious essential oils in 2.5 ml sizes to help make the price point even more accessible.

 

When Precious Oils are Priceless

 

Melissa Melissa officinalis:  

Melissa can be very calming and settling to the nerves after one experiences a shock to the system or traumatic event. It can help to restore us to our senses.

It also can be emotionally balancing, revitalizing, uplifting and strengthening making it invaluable for nervous tension, anxiousness, bereavement, and feeling down. And, it helps to ease emotional blocks.

Cautions: Not KidSafe® . To avoid the risk of various safety issues, we recommend a maximum dilution of 1% for topical applications.

Relax and Restore

2 drops Fragonia  Taxandria fragrans

2 drops Lime Citrus x aurantifolia

1 drop Melissa Melissa officinalis

 

 

Neroli Citrus x aurantium:  

Neroli can significantly soothe the emotions and calm the nerves for those who experience an alarming sense of anxiousness or panicky fear helping us to find our sense of tranquility.

Neroli is considered very uplifting for serious sadness and helps to ease grief and sorrow.  It is helpful for sudden shock and for agitation. Neroli can also open us to positive energy and help bring us back into balance.

Cautions: None Known.

 

Balance the Senses

2 drops Geranium Bourbon  Pelargonium x asperum

2 drops Neroli Citrus x aurantium

1 drop Orange Sweet Citrus sinensis

 

 

Rose Otto Rosa x damascena: 

Rose Otto is often cited as the primary essential oil to help  ease the spectrum of emotional shocks to the heart, including heartbreak, heartache, grief, sorrow and loss.

Emotionally, rose is considered calming, uplifting, balancing and strengthening.  Rose is also invaluable for supporting the spirit by promoting unconditional love and compassion for self and others.

Cautions:  Not KidSafe® We recommend a maximum dilution of 0.6% for topical applications.

Heart Soothe

2 drops Fragonia Taxandria fragrans

2 drops Rhododendron Rhododendron anthopogon*

1 drop Rose Otto (diluted 10%)  Rosa x damascena**

 

*  Rhododendron was featured as an Oil of the Month by Plant Therapy.  Based upon its popularity, it may stocked for general sale in the future.

** I’ve chosen the pre-diluted version of Rose Otto offered by Plant Therapy both for budget and for managing its powerfully assertive scent. You may also choose to purchase it undiluted, which you can find in the 2.5 ml sizes as well.

 


Sources:

Lawless, Julia. Aromatherapy and the Mind. HarperCollins Publishers. 2014. Kindle Edition.

Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Keville, Kathi, and Mindy Green. Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art. Berkeley, CA: Crossing, 2009. Print.

Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending and a Reference Manual for Essential Oils and Base Materials. Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

My Top Three Oils for Whole Being Balance

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Recently, we discussed the practice of holistic care in “What Does Holistic Have to Do with Our Health.” Essentially, we are caring for mind, body and spirit to bring balance to our whole being for a greater state of wellbeing.

You may recall from “Food for Thought, that our mind, body and spirit are interconnected. Depending on our state of mind, our body and spirit are impacted in chemical messages from the brain created by stress. This distress of the mind, especially over the long-term, can lead to dis-ease due to our body’s inability to compensate and re-balance.

Aromatherapy, in particular, the practice of holistic aromatherapy, is the perfect partner for helping to support harmony on all three levels of our existence. When we can find balance within ourselves and our environment,  we can experience a greater sense of optimal wellbeing.

Each essential oil and extract has its own therapeutic profile and value, often with multiple core applications.

And, often, we blend synergies from a selection of essential oils to create the holistic profile we are seeking as we did to accompany self-balancing activities outlined in Balancing Our Whole Being.”

There are, however, some essential oils and extracts that are just excellent at equally supporting and entire being.

I find myself reaching over and again for three in particular when I want well-rounded and robust support to bring my being back into balance.

The three I love the most for holistic use are: Bergamot, Fragonia and Blue Yarrow. Oh my goodness, do I love the gifts of these oils.

On their own, they are wonderful to bring equilibrium to mind, body and spirit. Mixed in other synergies, they enhance the holistic value. In my opinion, blended together, they create something extraordinary.

Below, you will find why I consider these my top three essences as my very favorites for holistic support on all three levels — mind, body and spirit.

In addition, I have included one of my very favorite blends with the added benefit of a soothing bath. I find this one of the best ways to find balance from within for my whole being.

As always, I  encourage you to consider options that match your own unique needs.

 

Bergamot Citrus bergamia  (bergapten free)

Bergamot is a favorite for its array of uses and its sunny scent. Bergamot is an incredibly uplifting, calming and balancing essential oil.

It is especially helpful when you feel off balance due to nervous tension and when you need to invite in more positive thinking and energy.

Mind:  Balancing to emotions. Uplifting and calming.  Promotes positive thinking while helping to release negative emotions.

Body: Supports the body in returning to a state of relaxation. Soothes the nervous system and smooths nervous tension held in the tissues.

Spirit: Helps to harmonize the spirit, especially when affected by strong, negative emotions. Supports the ability to receive positive energy and helps our natural energy to flow smoothly.

 

 

Fragonia Taxandria fragrans

Fragonia is highly valued for its uniquely balanced composition. It, too, has a wide array of core therapeutic uses and has a soft, refreshing scent.

It is especially helpful for letting go of old emotional thought patterns and negative energy blocks that are impacting your balance and wellbeing.

Mind:  Helps to release old emotional patterns. Calming and uplifting, it helps to reduce worry and nervous tension.

Body:  Balancing to the nervous system. Relaxing and relieving to nervous tension creating discomfort in the body.

Spirit:  Helps to release deep-seated blocks in the energy flow caused by old wounds. Strengthening to the spirit.

 

 

Blue Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

Blue yarrow has been prized throughout time for its ability to support wounds on all levels. Though it provides powerful support, it is gentle in nature.

Its “blue” constituents are especially helpful to bring a cooling sense of balance to  heated conditions of mind, body and spirit.

Mind:  Supports emotional equilibrium. Helps to calm worry and nervous tension.

Body: Calming to the nervous system. Relaxing and relieving for nervous tension held in the tissues.

Spirit:  Powerful support in releasing blocks created by repressed strong, negative emotions. Helps to support a smooth natural energy flow. Balanced between opposing energies, it helps to equalize these energies in our own being.

 

Balancing Bath Blend

2 drops Bergamot  Citrus bergamia

2 drops Fragonia Taxandria fragrans

1 drop Blue Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Mix with 2 T natural, unscented body wash

Add 1/2 c of Epsom Salts and mix.

Add to your warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.

Bringing the best of the abilities from my top three oils for whole being balance. This is an especially wonderful immersion experience before bedtime. 

 


Sources:

Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Lawless, Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health & Well-being. New York: Fall River, 2014. Print.

Mojay, Gabriel. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: A Guide to Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance through Essential Oils. London: Gaia, 2005. Print.

Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending . Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

Zeck, Robbi. The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. East Ivanhoe, Victoria: Aroma Tours, 2004. Print.

Reflections of a Summer Lover

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Oh happy days are here!

I am a child of summer.  And, my inner child remains happiest in the season of the sun. This I have learned about myself.

Summer is when my spirit feels most buoyant and unbound. Joy is easier to access as it readily bubbles to the surface.

If winter is the hibernal season, and spring is of renewal, for me summer is a  season of sustenance.

Our mind, body and spirits are nourished by the abundance of sunshine and daylight, the refreshing array fresh fruit and vegetables, the heady scent of summer blooms, and the frequency of the dazzling dragonflies. For many, these beautiful, blessed dragonflies — whose magical beauty shimmers under the summer sun —  represent and remind us of the ability to reflect light for the greater good.

I arrived in this world as a native to perpetually sunny Southern California. Though I was born in December, it was as summer-like, bright, 85-degree-day.

Reflecting back, I realize my spirit has always sought the sun  ever since  to find and create summer for my soul wherever I happen to be.

As a child in Southern California there was joyful abandon playing outdoors and walking barefoot in the grass, especially with the heady scent of the orange groves at the end of our street.

Later, I lived by the beach there and spent every summer day of my teen-age years barefoot in the sand and jumping through the waves.

To this day, I prefer my feet unbound to feel more grounded. If I am not barefoot, then flip flops are the footwear of choice. From my perspective, you cannot have too many pairs.

In my early adulthood, I moved to the Midwest for work. That’s when I quickly realized I needed sunlight and warmth to feel vital and nourished. What I had taken for granted, now needed to be recreated. If it was going to take awhile for summer to come to me where I was, then I needed to go in search of  summer.

Winters breaks became tropical getaways to the Caribbean where the season of the sun was only a flight away.  Immediately upon arrival, my whole being was transported by the soft air, shimmering waters, and the sun in the sky. Not only did my body thaw, but any tension I carried immediately melted away.  Breathing in the sea breeze allowed me to clear the clutter in my head, returning back to real life with a sense of renewed clarity.

Later, I moved to New England with shorter winters, but also shorter summers. This meant ensuring that I savored every drop of summer while it was in season. I joined the tradition of spending idyllic long weekends on Cape Cod. Crossing that bridge from the mainland marked the point where I was able to let go of the go-go-go and relax into loafing.

Now, I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Another west coast for sunsets on the sea and walks on the beach framed by turquoise water and white sugar sand.  And, though actual summer  is a swelter, but most of the rest of the year we live in season as if it  is part of our daily life.  My challenge here is taking the time from daily life to enjoy living in paradise.

No matter where you live, and what your experience, you can always create your own summer for the spirit. Aromatherapy offers a natural opportunity to help create that buoyant and relaxed state of mind.   Even when you can’t break away to chase the sun, a sniff of the synergies evoking the sense of summer can transport you instantly to to a mini-break in your own mind’s eye.

For me, the sensory experiences of the summer season call for a switch to scents that are fresher and cooling  such as citrus and mints.

To help you get started, or to inspire you to create your own experiences, I offer below some summer loving synergies curated from my own collection to evoke favorite seasonal memories.

These were created for inhalation purposes to most readily connect with the mind and spirit. I prefer to make these in a personal inhaler to have with me when needed. You may also choose to use your diffuser, with the exception of the Beach Rose synergy because the rose otto 10% is diluted in vegetable oil, which can damage the unit.

 

I wish you an abundance of sun in your spirit!

 

Inner Child

This uplifting and cheerful blend helps restore my joy of the simple life on a sunny day during my childhood in Southern California.

2 drops Grapefruit Pink, Citrus x paradisi

2 drops Mandarin, Citrus reticulata

1 drop Spearmint, Mentha spicata

 

Mental Mojito

This refreshing and revitalizing scent helps when I need that sense of clear -headed clarity created after a Caribbean Vacation. 

3 drops Lime, Citrus x aurantifolia

2 drops Peppermint,  Mentha x piperita

 

Beach Rose  

This soothing scent is evocative of the slow days, sand dunes, and snow cones of Cape Cod where I crossed the bridge into a state of contentment and relaxation.

2 drops Rose Otto (Diluted at 10%)  Rosa damascena 

2 drops Sandalwood Australian, Santalum spicatum

1 drop BergamotCitrus bergamia

 

Sangria Siesta 

(for Inhalation)

This deeply relaxing and uplifting synergy is reflective of the lazy days of a Florida summer calling for loafing on the lanai for rest and reflection.

2 drops Davana, Artemisia pallens

1 drop Lemon, Citrus x limon

1 drop Lime, Citrus x aurantifolia

1 drop Orange SweetCitrus sinensis

Balancing Our Whole Being

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


In our last blog, “What Does Holistic Have to Do With Our Health” from the Essential Education series, we discussed the meaning and impact of of holistic health practices on our whole being. Essentially, we are caring for our whole person – bringing balance to mind, body, and spirit – for a restorative sense wellbeing.

We also discussed a specific self-care practice combining massage, hydrotherapy (through bath or shower) and aromatherapy to create a synergy for our senses. This allowed us to support our whole health at home in the tradition of Hippocrates, the Father of Western medicine, made modern by aromatherapy pioneer, Marguerite Maury.

Holistic health practitioners continue to incorporate another teaching of  Hippocrates:

 

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.”

To sustain optimal well being our mind, body and spirit consistently strive for balance. In Eastern Medicine and Energy Medicine, we think of balance in our natural energy flow. In Western Medicine, we think of this as homeostasis. This is the natural healing force within each of us.

Chronic disruption to our equilibrium can challenge our whole being beyond its ability to compensate and rebalance. This impacts our capacity to heal and can lead to dis-ease.

 

In addition, to the “aromatic bath and scented massage” as discussed in “What Does Holistic Have to Do With Our Health,” we have available to us many other self-balancing techniques from both ancient and modern traditions to incorporate into our self-care routines.

Because many of us experience nervous tension and worry that takes us out of balance, I’ve offered three options to help restore our mind, body and spirit in this situation.  I encourage you to  explore and experience what works best for you. Know you can begin with the mind, body or spirit after determining which area is of most concern, but each option can help to restore balance to our whole being.

All are designed as options for when we are on the go. We may not always have the time to be in a quiet space, but we can always create our own inner quiet space regardless of where we happen to be.

As always, aromatherapy can play a significant supporting role by creating a synergy with our other self-care practices. As we discussed previously, the intention of holistic aromatherapy is to help bring balance to mind, body and spirit to encourage our own natural healing process. With this in mind, we are going integrate aromatherapy with the practices below for a more expansive experience.

 

CALMING THE MIND

Experiencing meditation, along with aromatherapy, can help quiet our busy, repetitive, or anxious thoughts allowing us to balance the physical and subtle bodies. This also allows us to be in the present moment, go inward for introspection and hit the reset button.

Quiet Mind

This helps to quiet busy thoughts and expand our ability to go inward.

6 drops Basil Linolool (Ocimum basilicum)

6 drops Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

3 drops Sandalwood (Santalum album)

Add to a personal aroma inhaler

 

Aromatic Meditation in Seven Simple Steps:

(Adapted from Yoga Journal June 2014) [1]

  1. Choose an aromatherapy blend and inhale deeply in each nostril. (see above)
  2. Find a quiet place to sit comfortably
  3. Gently close your eyes.
  4. Notice your breath, without trying to control it.
  5. Breathe gently through your nose and bring your focus to each inhalation and exhalation.
  6. Count each breath
  7. When you find thoughts coming to the surface, simply notice them like clouds floating by (without judgment) and return your attention to counting your breath.

 

 

RELAXING THE BODY

Manual tension release provides support for the physical body to relax and rebalance. This aromatic head massage, adapted from the ayurvedic experience, can relieve tight discomfort in the head and neck to create a cascade effect throughout the body helping to ease your mind, body and spirit back into a state of relaxation.

Heads Up

This is also helpful if you experience excruciating head and neck tension that can side-line you feeling unwell.

4 drops Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

3 drops Marjoram, Sweet (Origanum majorana)

2 drops Basil Linalool (Ocimum basilicum)

2 drops Helichrysum Italicum (Helichrysum italicum)

2 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

2 drops Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis ct 1,8-Cineole)

Add to a 10 ml roller bottle and top with jojoba oil. Note, this is a 5% blend meant for spot treatment and short-term use.

 

Aromatic Ayurvedic Head Massage

(Adapted from Massage Bodywork Magazine Sept/Oct. 2008) [2]

  1. Apply your aromatherapy blend (see above) to your temples. Gently massage with your fingertips in circular pattern. Continue for at least one minute.
  2.  Next,  you may wish to apply a small amount of the aromatherapy blend to your fingertips.  Gently “shampoo” your entire scalp in small circles with your fingertips. Begin at the temples and move toward the back of the head. Continue for at least one-minute.
  3. Finish by gently “combing” the scalp with your fingertips. Begin with fingertips above the forehead, at the hairline, and comb over the top of the head and toward the neck and shoulders. Repeat up to 10 times

 

 

SOOTHING THE SPIRIT

Reflexology is the practice of bringing various aspects of the body back into balance by working through corresponding reflex points on the foot. These steps are intended bring our energy back downward from our head toward our feet soothing nervous tension felt in our physical and emotional bodies and regrounding us into a present calming state.

 

Balance Points

In practicing yoga, you become aware of centering your weight on the four corners of your feet so that your posture is in balance and you feel firmly balanced. This blend creates that sense of feeling squarely centered and grounded. 

2 drops Fragonia (Agonis fragrans)

2 drops Sandalwood (Santalum album)

1 drop Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

1 drop Ginger CO2 (Zingiber officinalis)

Add to 1 oz unscented lotion.

 

Soothing Scented Reflexology Release

  • Apply only the smallest amount of lotion to cover the first foot, without being slippery.
  • Warm up the foot with gentle massage of the sole and top surface using gliding stroke with your fingertips and thumb.
  • Next, you are going to work with the Solar Plexus Point, known as the “panic button.”
  • The Solar Plexus Point is located just under the balls of your feet, in the very center of the two. Often you will feel tension when it is pressed.
  • Practice deep breathing by gently and slowly inhaling into the lungs and exhaling completely.
  • Gently press your thumb into this point and and circle in a clockwise direction until you feel a release of tension.
  • You may finish using both thumbs in a “diaphragm spread” by simultaneously pulling each thumb under the balls of the foot, from the center outward toward the edges.
  • Repeat other foot.

 


Sources:

[1] Quinn, Corina. “Reset Your Health.” Yoga Journal June 2014: 22. Print.

[2] Weber, Kristine Kaoverii., and Neil Sutherland. Healing Self-massage: Over 100 Simple Techniques for Re-energizing Body and Mind. London: Collins & Brown, 2005. Print. cited by  Smith, Laurie Chance. “Soothe Stress With Self-Massage || Massage Therapy Articles.”Massage Therapy: Everybody Deserves a Massage. Associated Massage and Bodywork Professionals, Sept. 2008. Web. 23 May 2017.

What Does Holistic Have to Do With Our Health?

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


Those of us attracted to natural health and healing often hear, and use, the word holistic, as in “holistic health” and “holistic aromatherapy.” But, do we really understand the true essence of its meaning?

What exactly does holistic mean? And, what does it really have to do with our health?

Does it mean:

Natural health?

Alternative health?

Eastern medicine?

Something else?

So, let’s discuss. I believe it is important we understand its historical and present significance so that we may make informed choices about how to use and practice holistic health within its intended context.

The word holistic is derived from the Greek “holos,” which means “whole, entire, or complete.”[1] When we look at something holistically, we are viewing the “whole” entity made up of interconnected and interdependent parts, rather than focusing parts themselves as independent elements.[2]

Distilled down to its fundamental level, holistic health and healing very simply means we are looking at our “whole person,” or “whole being.”

So what does that mean?

In holistic, or “whole person” health, we see our whole being made up of mind, body and spirit. And, these interconnected elements of our existence must be in balance within ourselves, and with our environment, for us to experience optimal wellbeing.

Eastern traditions of healing have been approached care of the whole person for more than 3,000 years. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), originating in China, and Ayurveda from India, both stress the mind, body and spirit connection, as well as the need for balance in our natural energy flow for optimal health.

Ayurvedic medicine utilizes diet, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and massage as means to support balance.[3] In TCM, acupuncture, diet, herbal remedies, and gentle movement such as Tai Chi are used to restore a state of harmony.[4]

 

What is considered the advent of modern western medicine also began as a holistic approach more than 2,500 years ago. Hippocrates, acknowledged as the Father of Western (or Modern) Medicine, is credited with taking medicine out of the supernatural and into the natural world among western health practitioners. Rather than a punishment from the deities, he believed that disease was a result of imbalances within our mind, body and spirit, as well as environmental factors.

Hippocrates also believed the body contains its own natural self-healing mechanism that seeks and requires balance for good health. Thus, he saw the role of the health practitioner was to help bring the whole person back into balance, as well as looking at sources that may be the cause of imbalance.[5] In treating the individual rather than the disease, Hippocrates employed natural healing therapies such diet, hydrotherapy, movement and massage.[6]

By the 17th century, the belief that mind, body and spirit existed as one interconnected aspect of our being fell out of favor. Due to religious doctrines of the time, this concept created interference in the advancement of medicine. Rene Descartes, credited, as the Father of Modern Philosophy, argued the mind and body were separate entities.

This revised view of the body as a biological collection of mechanical parts allowed for the study of anatomy and physiology paving the way for many medical advances we benefit from today. Today, this biomedical approach is still the primary practice, more than 300 years later, where health is defined as the absence of disease with a focus on how to eliminate biological factors that cause disease. But, it is also argued this view has created limitations in in our understanding and advancement of healing the person as a whole.[7]

Any practice that did not fit within the parameters of the biomedical approach became mistrusted and marginalized. Once outside the mainstream, holistic medicine became synonymous with alternative medicine. Worse, alternative medicine became the recipient of an even greater negative connotation due to those who preyed upon the desperately ill from the shadows by promising false cures that stemmed from neither modern medicine nor ancient traditions.

In 1998, Congress founded the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to test the efficacy and safety of treatments available to patients who were pursuing them outside of mainstream medicine.[8]

As research showed many modalities, such as massage and acupuncture, to be safe, soothing and not interfering with conventional treatments, they began to find acceptance under the now coined “complementary” health status. This implied a treatment considered “in addition to” conventional medicine vs. the alternative “instead of.”

With continued study validating the efficacy of these natural approaches, the newly renamed Center for Complementary and Integrative Health in 2015 renewed efforts to encourage increased research into holistic modalities and new study methodologies to suit their nature.  [9]

While scientific exploration continues to verify, explain and reveal new information about efficacy and safety, it may take time to unlock the many mysteries of the natural healing arts. In the meantime, many argue the documented use and effectiveness handed down through the ages creates a valuable body of historical evidence based upon trial and error and replicated empirical demonstration.

When it comes to holistic health, we seem to have come full circle from Hippocrates to Harvard. Whole-person healing is enjoying a resurgence of research across our major academic medical centers under the headings such as mind/body medicine, systems biology and functional medicine. And, many top teaching hospitals offer natural healing modalities as part of their clinical practice for their patients. Holistic healing combined with conventional medicine is referred to as integrative health or medicine creating a sense of working together in synergy.

In the meantime, holistic health practices continue to thrive on their own, offering either Eastern and Western approaches. Whole-person approaches such as acupuncture, massage, yoga and aromatherapy have become mainstream for the masses as people experience the benefits of balancing their beings.

One modern, yet historically familiar, definition of a holistic health practitioner is as follows:

Holistic health practitioners believe that the whole person is made up of interdependent parts, and if one part is not working properly, all the other parts will be affected. In this way, if people have imbalances (physical, emotional, or spiritual) in their lives, it can negatively affect their overall health.”

With this in mind, practitioners may call upon both conventional and natural methods of healing from both the Eastern and Western traditions, not only to treat symptoms, but most importantly to look at source issues that may be leading to health concerns.[10]

 

Where does aromatherapy fit in?

Aromatherapy is the perfect partner in caring for your whole person. Approached in a holistic way, these aromatic essences can impact the wellbeing of our whole being – mind, body and spirit – putting nature in our hands to use as support for coming back into a healing state of balance.

In “The Wonderful Wide World of Aromatherapy,” we discuss dynamic and diverse ways  in which aromatherapy is practiced. The modern approach to holistic aromatherapy was introduced in 1961 by Marguerite Maury. Drawing upon the practices of both Eastern and Western holistic health, Maury sought to integrate aromatherapy in a way that would impact the psyche, physiological and psychological needs of each unique individual.[11]

Today, the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy defines the practice as:

The art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.  It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.”

Maury’s use of aromatherapy to enhance our whole being through aromatic massage echoes the often-quoted dictate of Hippocrates.

The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and a scented massage every day.”

It is with this holistic health advice in mind, from historical to modern perspective, that we can recreate our own whole-person restorative experience. We will combine aromatherapy with hydrotherapy and massage in a self-care routine as outlined below.

No worries if you don’t enjoy the bath. Benefits can also be enjoyed under the sensory-soothing spray of the shower. Bonus if you have a massaging-type shower head.

 

 

1) Choose a Synergy (or, use these as inspiration to create your own)

 

Balancing Bath Soak

2 drops fragonia

2 drops bergamot

1 drop ho wood

Helps to soothe and balance the mind, body and spirit.

 

 Bathe the Day Away

2 drops ho wood

2 drops palo santo*

1 drop rose otto 10%

Helps to harmonize the mind, body and spirit with a sense of inner peace and overall wellbeing.

*Palo Santo was a recent offering through the Oil of the Month club.

 

Fresh Awakening

2 drops bergamot

2 drops rosemary

1 drop spearmint

Relaxing to the body, awakening to the mind, while inviting joyful energy to the spirit.

 

Revitalizing Rain

2 drops frankincense carteri

2 drops spearmint

1 drop eucalyptus globulus

Uplifting and invigorating to the mind, while soothing to the body. Calming and clarifying, while promoting inner-contemplation.

 

2) Create a Bath or Shower Blend

 

For a Bath Blend:

5 drops (total) essential oil blend

1-2 T unscented, natural body wash

Mix well. Then, add:

½ c Epsom salts

Add to running water and soak. 

 

For a Shower Blend:

5-10 drops (total) essential oil blend

1 oz unscented, natural body wash

PET plastic squeeze bottle

Shake vigorously

May multiply blend per ounce based on the ratio above

 

3) Experience a Self-Massage in Bath or Shower:

  • You will need a natural bristle bathing brush (I have one with a long handle for the shower and detachable brush for the bath).
  • In the bath, apply unscented soap or body wash, while soaking in your aromatherapy blend.
  • In the shower, apply your shower gel with essential oil blend.

 

Self-Massage Steps:

  • Use comfortable, circular strokes
  • Apply your strokes so the flow of circulation moves toward the heart.
  • Start at the top of an area first, working upward toward the heart then move to the areas below to work upward.
  • Start with the left side, then work the right side in the following order:
  1. Upper Arm. Lower Arm
  2. Upper Leg. Lower Leg
  3. Switch Sides.
  4. Then, move to:
  5. Chest. Abdomen
  6. Upper Back. Lower Back (Don’t forget the buttocks)

This will provide you with a full body massage. Bonus if you massage your head with your fingertips. A head massage could also be completed while washing your hair.

 


Sources:

[1] “holo-“. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 3 May. 2017. <Dictionary.com

[2] “Holistic.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.

[3] “Ayurvedic Medicine.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

[4] “Traditional Chinese Medicine: In Depth.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 23 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

[5] “Hippocrates.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Apr. 2017. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

[6] Osborne, David K. “HIPPOCRATES.” Greek Medic2007. GreekMedicine.net, 2007. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

[7] Mehta, Neeta. “Mind-body Dualism: A Critique from a Health Perspective.” Mens Sana Monographs. Medknow Publications, Jan. 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.

[8] “NCCIH Facts-at-a-Glance and Mission.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 03 June 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.

[9] “Objective 1: Advance Fundamental Science and Methods Development.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 03 June 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.

[10] “What Is Holistic Medicine?” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

[11] Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending and a Reference Manual for Essential Oils and Base Materails. Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

 

An Achilles Heel to Healing

By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


 

We are told “when life gets tough, the tough get going.”

What does that really mean? Generally, we interpret that to mean we “toughen up” to persist in working through adversity.

Most often, persistence is a trait we are taught to admire. But, is it a trait that helps us be whole? What if this persistent state of armoring is actually an Achilles Heel to our healing?

Greek mythology depicts Achilles as one of its greatest warriors during the Trojan War. Yet, for all his armor and strength, he was killed by a poisoned arrow that found its mark on his heel. That vulnerable spot came to be known as the Achilles Heel. Even one who is heroically strong can meet his downfall through a poisoned weak spot.[1]

In the modern world, we are often met with constant sources of stress that can feel like an army of arrows flinging at us. We armor up and soldier on to persist on our path while trying to prevent or push back the adversity coming at us.

By definition persistence is “the firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” [2]

Yet, when we heroically persist in armoring up, we also create a rigid pattern of holding that can impact our overall wellbeing on all levels. This very armor against stress tends to repress its toxic effects binding it into our whole being and creating our own poisoned Achilles Heel.

Emotionally, physically and energetically, continued persistence can put us in a state of fighting a continuous battle, which can eventually erode our strength and stamina. This unrelenting sense of distress can create dis-ease on all levels by impacting our ability find a healing balance.

 

As we read in “Food for Food for Thought,” and “Take and Breath and Cool Your Jets,” distress of the mind, unchecked, also creates a stress response in the body. In therapeutic bodywork, we say your issues are in your tissues. You know that feeling of discomfort from the knots in your shoulders and neck where many hold their stress. This is the body armored and ready for battle. But, this unrelenting state of distress also can lead to chronic and serious conditions through the stress cocktail that impacts our body’s ability to find a healing balance.

In energy work, we say this sense of armoring, or holding, creates blocks in the natural energy flow of our subtle body. From this perspective, left unreleased, these blocks can become a deeply suppressed source of dis-ease that eventually manifest as physical health conditions, most especially where weak spots have developed.

In my own healing journey, a colleague recently pointed out my persistence in working to heal a chronic lower back condition. In fact, I was so persistent, that I tried pushing forward with the same therapeutic modality for a year.  And, though I made some progress, I wasn’t making a breakthrough.

In retrospect, I needed another approach, but I was not willing to flex to some other options because I was certain this was the answer if I just gave it enough effort and time. Yet, the more I persisted the more frustrated I became with my body leading to some distress in the mind, creating more stress in the body, which affected the pain I was experiencing through a state of dis-ease and back to the frustration and stress of the mind. What a cycle, huh?

The breakthrough came, when I eventually broke down. A few months ago I “suddenly” had an issue with intense acute back pain that impacted my ability to fully function. What I thought had been under management morphed into requiring much more intensive therapeutic work. I had missed the message in my persistence to progress.

What also made itself known was a major jump in my blood pressure into a very high and concerning range indicating I was holding stress under my “can do” persistent armor. My acupuncture physician had also been warning that my liver meridian was way out of balance indicating a holding of anger and resentment. Whether you practice western or eastern medicine (or both like me), the modalities were in agreement. I was holding in frustration that was turning toxic.

The very act of persistence became my Achilles Heel, blocking my continued healing of lingering issues, and creating new chronic conditions.

While we never want to be sidelined by injury or illness, if it happens it is always an opportunity to stop and “take a look.” What I discovered about myself was that I persisted in getting through the last nine years, after the life-altering accident, by armoring up and toughing it out. In fact, those were skills I likely learned early in life and had sourced within to get through. And, they did in fact get me to a certain point. But, now, it was time to let go of persistence and learn something new that would take me farther in my journey.

So, then, what else can we do when the stressors of life are zinging at us?

We learn to bounce through resilience vs. battling through persistence.

Researchers have found that healthy people are more resilient in nature and that resilience is a key factor in greatly improving the healing process. From a wellness perspective, psychologists define resilience as the “the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.”[3]

As it relates to our wellbeing, researchers have this to say:

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.” [4]

Key factors identified in resiliency are the ability to keep a positive outlook, manage our emotions, and adapt. “Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.” [5]

Rather than pushing forward through adversity with the obstinate rigidity of persistence, the practice of resilience is a softening of our stance allowing us the flexibility to regroup and respond.

Here was a novel concept. I could armor up, absorb the reverberations of the stress I was creating, experiencing holding in as my personal poison — or, I could relax into a buoyant stance, taking care with self-care after the fact to ensure I had not overlooked any arrows to my heel.

Aromatherapy excels in supporting this softening of our being so necessary to a healthy resilience. So often, when I open my spirit to working on a certain place of healing in my being, the absolute perfectly necessary essential oil shows up in my space to support me just at precisely the right time. Blue Yarrow is no exception. It came to me at just the right time to help calm the mind, relax the body and soothe the soul.

Blue Yarrow, Achillea Millefolium, is named for Achilles. The herb was traditionally used in battles for wounded warriors. [6] And, so for those of us who have learned to battle forward through persistence, blue yarrow is wonderful companion in learning to remove the self-inflicted stress poison of own Achilles Heel.

Blue Yarrow essential oil also is considered wound healing for blocks in our natural energy flow created by deeply repressed negative emotions, such as the anger, rage and frustration that so often accompany chronic stress and impact our overall wellbeing.[7]

It can be used when you need greater emotional support and insight during significant life changes, when you feel challenged by your weak spots, and when you seek stay balanced while keeping your sense of integrity.[8] Blue Yarrow has also been used in ancient cultures to promote intuition and divination.[9]

 

If you are having a day, week, month or moment that feels like you are coming in from a battlefield, blue yarrow is a wonderful support to any self-care routine you have that allows you to slow down, soften up and relieve your stress as practice resiliency. If you would like some ideas for some mindfulness approaches that would support steps toward a resiliency practice, to start, take a look at “Take a Breath and Cool Your Jets” and “M is for Meditation.”

Below are two of my new favorite mini-master blends working with blue yarrow to support my journey toward a softer stance and bouncing back. I like them both in personal inhalers to have with me on the go. You can triple the blend to use them that way, or you can use as is in your diffuser.

 

Blue Bliss

2 drops bergamot

2 drops coriander

1 drop blue yarrow

This is a great blend for calming the mind, body and spirit. It is clearing and cleansing, especially for repressed emotions such as tension, frustration and anger, and helping to balance our natural energy flow. It encourages optimism and enthusiasm, while uplifting and calming to mind, body and spirit.

 

Blue Skies

2 drops elemi

2 drops grapefruit, pink

1 drop blue yarrow

I love this blend as support for healing meditation. It is grounding and strengthening while opening our mind to our intuition and the Divine with greater clarity and inspiration. Helps to clear and move deeply held, negative energy blocks such tension and frustration. Promotes a sense of peace while uplifting and the mind and spirit.

 


Sources:

[1] “Achilles’ Heel.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

[2] Persistence.” Google. n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

[3] “Resilience.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

[4] “The Road to Resilience.” Pardon Our Interruption. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

[5] “Resilience.” Psychology Today. Psychology Today, n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2017.

[6] “Achillea Millefolium.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.

[7] Mojay, Gabriel. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance through Essential Oils. London: Gaia, 1999. Print.

[8] Zeck, Robbi. The Blossoming Heart: Aromatherapy for Healing and Transformation. East Ivanhoe, Victoria: Aroma Tours, 2004. Print.

[9] Achillea Millefolium.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.

Keim, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy and Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

Shutes, Jade. The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Aromatic Medicine Making. Willow Springs, NC: NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies, 2011. Print.

 

An Eternal Spring in Your Step

By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


With the advent of the Spring Equinox this Monday, March 20th, we begin to shake off our hibernal urges of deep winter and celebrate the season of renewal.

What a joyous time it is when “Spring has Sprung.”  And, the perfect time to create new beginnings in our being about how we might keep an eternal spring in our step.

With this in mind, what I would like to share with you are some Lessons from Lucy.  She did a lot of joyful living in the 15.5 years she traveled this Earth. We were together for nearly 15 of those years after she adopted me when I met her at the animal shelter in New Orleans.

I could write a whole blog post on the wellness benefits of pets, but today, I am inspired to share the inherent wellness wisdom I learned from one of my most gifted teachers about her way of being in the world that supported a good life.

Lucy was a 50-pound border collie and black lab mix. Her head was all border collie and heart was all lab so I always said she tried really hard to be good, but found it difficult. Upon meeting her, the vet proclaimed “she had a BIG personality.”  Lucy had a rough start to life. Abandoned. Left short tied. Beaten and shot with BB’s. Yet, her zest for life never wavered.

Lucy was more than a beloved companion. As a working dog, she needed a purpose, and she appointed herself as my guide dog to be sure I was ok and on track. As such, she was passionate about getting me through some of the biggest challenges of my adult life.

She was at my side during a hellish divorce, unexpected job changes, several health challenges, and surgeries.  With a deep empathetic connection, she comforted me in ways that were profound, got me out of bed when life seemed a bit overwhelming, dried my tears, and always made me laugh out loud with her comedic antics. But, mostly, she had the most amazing ability to actively listen. We had a lot of talks about deep stuff and she kept my secrets safe.

Throughout her lifetime, she was also very adaptable. We made many moves through several states. If she had her favorite bed and toy, she was willing to go with positive outlook and a sense of adventure for whatever awaited us.

Lucy was willing to forgive. We were inseparable except for two occasions. After I broke my neck, I remain eternally grateful to the friends and caregivers who kept her safe and well for those first six months away from our home. And, though Lucy was clearly ticked at me when I could finally retrieve her, she forgave me after a short bit and a long hug.  And, then, she became an emotional support dog thereafter before I knew what that was — really illuminating the lessons of unconditional love. Three years ago, this summer,  it was finally her time finally time to pass into the great beyond for a well deserved eternal rest. And, for her sake, I learned the grace of letting go.

Lucy was hale and healthy keeping a spring in her step right up until the end when nature just finally took its course.  Her life expectancy was 10-12 years, and yet she lived a quality life for several years beyond. And, I think, this was in large measure because of her optimistic outlook, zest for living and joy in small things daily.  She didn’t dwell on the past, or worry about the future. She lived in the present and taught me how to get the most out of how to be.

When we lived in New England, spring was one of Lucy’s favorite seasons. There was always an extra spring to her step, especially when the sunshine was melting the last of the snow and just as the daffodils — those happy, hardy harbingers of spring — were making their reappearance.

What was best of all was that the squirrels were once again active. In her later years, chasing the squirrels became more of a game. She didn’t have an expectation of catching them, she just used them as incentive to run short sprints (with me attached at the end of the leash). She didn’t get frustrated at the outcome, but rather, took joy in the madcap journey of the moment.

On another March day four years ago, in what turned out to be her last best spring season, we made her annual checkup visit to the vet.

I recently came across her exam notes and am reminded how profoundly she shifted my awareness about how to live the good life. I had recorded them to share someday.

It feels like that perfect someday is now — a synchronicity to reviewing them again this March as gift during her birthday month for us during this season of renewal.

Notes from the visit:

Today was Lucy’s 98,000 mile check up. She turned 14 this week (98 in dog years)! Her vet continues to be amazed at her excellent health. Heart and lungs pronounced “gorgeous!” Strength excellent. A bit of arthritis — just a little creaky in the back hips. No pain management needed at this time. Loss of peripheral vision, but otherwise ok. Some possible hearing loss, but had wax cleaned out of ear. Hearty appetite and digestion excellent, but adding some Pepcid for some occasional reflux at night. May have a possible touch of dementia, but it could also just be her big personality coupled with age. A few skin tags and fatty tumors, but muscle tone excellent.”

So, in observing her lifetime of near perfect health here are:

Lessons from Lucy

  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Take your supplements.
  • Enjoy yummy, guilt-free treats on occasion and be excited about them.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Generally at the same time, and get at least 8 hours of sleep.
  • Take naps.
  • Get outside in the sunshine.
  • Have structure to your day, but allow flexibility.
  • Exercise at least 15 minutes daily.
  • Engage in a brain game daily.
  • Be curious about the world around you.
  • Use your noggin to sort things out.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Be bold but know when to retreat.
  • Give and receive love unconditionally.
  • Find your purpose and live it. It’s OK if it changes over life stages.
  • Be in social relationships with others and understand the boundaries and roles of each.
  • Smile.
  • Manage your stress by having outlets for it.
  • Push yourself to do more, even if you are unsure if you can.
  • Ask for what you want or need.
  • Accept loving help from others.
  • Be yourself.
  • Allow your personality to shine.
  • Don’t grow old because of your chronological age, or physical limitations.
  • Live in the present and treat each moment as a gift.
  • Enjoy the world around you.
  • Spread happiness, laughter and joy.

As a nose hound, scent was incredibly important to Lucy.  She literally took in the world by smelling everything she passed. A jogger’s dog she wasn’t, because she stopped so frequently, suddenly, and randomly to be able take long and deep sniffs of whatever pleased her senses. Though she loved to be active, the best part of her walks were to  “stop and smell the roses” all along our path.

Though Lucy is no longer physically here, her spirit and teachings remain. In this season of renewal I hope you find the Lessons from Lucy helpful in keeping your own Eternal Spring in Your Step.

I have included these blends to support you on your path. You can add to your diffuser, triple the recipe to add to an inhaler stick to take along, or add a drop to a diffuser necklace to always be with you.

 

Lucy’s Love of Life Blend

2 drops mandarin

1 drop bergamot

1 drop coriander

1 drop elemi

This is playful, joyful, zesty blend that also helps us support peace and clarity.

 

I have also included a repeat of a crowd favorite from a previous blog, The Sunshine State. 

 

Inner Child

 2 drops grapefruit

2 drops mandarin

1 drop spearmint

This blend helps lifts the spirits with child-like joy and optimism.

 


Sources:

Kein, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.

February Oil of the Month – Blue Yarrow

If you were to mention the words Achillea Millifolium, most would not know what you were referring to.  If you were to say “Blue Yarrow”, most would have at least heard of it, and many have seen it, as it grows in most every state in the US and in many different countries.

For many years, Native Americans have recogmized this plant as a digestive aid and as a help for other ailments. It was referred to by some tribes as a “Life Medicine”.

Blue Yarrow, has such a long and fascinating history.  Its’ history begins with its botanical name, Achillea millefolium, named after the Greek myth Achilles.  It is said that when he was wounded in battle, the Goddess Aphrodite used Blue Yarrow to treat his wounds.  He was said to have gone onto the battle field with the yarrow to assist his fellow wounded soldiers.  It was later recorded as being used on soldiers during WWI to dress their wounds, stop bleeding, promote healing, as well as help prevent infection. [1]

Even today Blue Yarrow is renowned for its ability to help support the healing of damaged skin.  It promotes healthy immune function and minimizes the length of seasonal illness.  Emotionally, it is helpful with harmonizing your mind and body, promoting courage, and increases intuition. [2]

My top 6 uses for Blue Yarrow are:

  1. Ease the appearance of Eczema

1 ounce Hemp Seed Carrier Oil, 6 drops Blue Yarrow, 6 drops Juniper Berry, 6 drops Palmarosa, massage onto areas of concern

  1. Soothe illness, ease discomfort from fever, and support respiratory function[3]

1 ounce Fractionated Coconut Oil, 4 drops Blue Yarrow, 6 drops Manuka, 4 drops Lemon, 4 drops Cypress, massage onto chest

  1. Minimize joint discomfort

1 ounce Olive Lotion, 6 drops Blue Yarrow, 4 drops Rosemary, 4 drops Myrrh, 4 drops Roman Chamomile

  1. Promote Courage

In a personal inhaler, 4 drops Blue Yarrow, 4 drops Laurel Leaf, 4 drops Ho Wood, 3 drops Lavender Fine

  1. Increase Intuition

Diffuse 2 drops Blue Yarrow, 2 drops Clary Sage, 2 drop Jasmine, 2 drop Grapefruit

  1. Promote Healing of Cuts and Scrapes

In a roll on, 10 ml Hemp Seed Carrier Oil, 2 drops Blue Yarrow, 2 drops Lavender, 2 drops Helichrysum Italicum

 

Download Product Template Sheet Here

 

What is your favorite Oil of the Month and how do you use it?

 

 

[1] V. A. Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Novato: New World Library, 2016.
[2] K. &. Bull, Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques, CreateSpace, 2015.
[3] P. &. Cantele, The complete aromatherapy & essential oils handbook for everyday wellness, Toronto: Robert Rose, 2014.

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